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4th of July events for kids in NYC

Hit up patriotic 4th of July events for kids, including fireworks shows and an annual hot dog chow-down

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks 2013

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks 2013 Photograph: Grace Chu

RECOMMENDED: More 4th of July in NYC


Pack your family's long weekend with these fun 4th of July events for kids, including a few New York traditions like Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest and the stunning display at Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks show. Keep the celebrations going throughout the weekend with some awesome, free summer activities, treat the kids to scoops at NYC's best ice cream shops or toast to the good ol' U.S.A. at one of the city's plentiful kid-friendly bars


4th of July events for kids

Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks

  • Critics choice
  • Free

For this mother of all pyrotechnic displays, Macy's will explode more than 40,000 fireworks—returning to the East River for the second year in a row. Stake out a nice spot along Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Brooklyn Promenade or the South Street Seaport to watch, and bring your own picnic basket with beverages to toast our country's birthday. All ages. RECOMMENDED: 4th of July events and where to watch the fireworks

  1. Brooklyn
  2. Until Sat Jul 4
More info

Independence Day Scavenger Hunt

  • Price band: 1/4

Scour the museum's permanent collection for Revolution-era artifacts like the statue of King George (that tyrant!) or George Washington's inaugural armchair. Also explore the 300-year history of ice cream by helping to crank up a batch the way they did in the good ol' days (noon–4pm). Make sure to catch eighteenth-century songs (think Yankee Doodle), stories and a reading of the Declaration of Independence during a "Revolution on the River" performance from the Hudson River Ramblers (11:30am, 1:30pm and 2:30pm). All ages.

  1. DiMenna Children's History Museum 170 Central Park West, at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street)
  2. Until Sat Jul 4
More info

Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Celebrate our nation’s independence by joining an estimated 40,000 viewers in watching people stuff their faces with franks. (America, ladies and gents.) After securing the world record by downing 69 hot dogs in ten minutes in 2013, reigning champ Joey Chestnut is back and hungry for his ninth consecutive title this year. All ages.

  1. Nathan's Famous 1310 Surf Ave, at Stillwell Ave, 11224
  2. Until Sat Jul 4
More info

Pier Kids 2015

  • Free

Catch family concerts, storytelling, art activities and more at Pier 6 throughout the summer. Come by each week for performances from kid-friendly bands, dance troupes and puppet companies. Kick things off in June with Robbi K and Bakithi Kumalo (6/21) and Wildlife Theater's show, Polar Opposites (6/28). July brings entertainment from Jacqueline Schmidt (7/5), Play Date (7/12), Afro Brazilian by Cumbe Dance (7/19) and Puppetmobile (7/26). Close out the summer with an interactive demo with Volunteers of Wildlife, involving real Birds of Prey (8/2) and a jammin' concert with the Dirty Sock FunTime Band (8/9). All ages.

  1. Brooklyn Bridge Park Main St at Fulton Ferry Landing, 11201
  2. Sun Aug 2 - Sun Aug 9
More info

"Spiders Alive!"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Get up close and personal with 16 species of one of the world's most essential predators. "Spiders Alive!" lets you and your kids come face-to-face with live spiders from the museum's research collection (the largest in the world), learn about spiders' behavior and anatomies, and take a picture atop a giant arachnid model. Visitors are able to watch, learn and even touch these creepy creatures for up to three months! Be sure to check out 15-minute presentations in which the museum's resident spider experts handle live tarantulas and other species of spiders. All ages.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West at 79th St, 10024
  2. Thu Jul 30 - Sun Nov 29
More info

State Fair Meadowlands

  • Price band: 1/4

The giant fair offers more than 150 rides and attractions, plus tons of free entertainment, including master hypnotist Steve Bayner, racing pigs, an open-air circus, a petting zoo, lions and tigers, and fireworks (July 3 & 4). Admission on opening day (June 19) is only $2. Check the website for the full schedule. All ages.

  1. Meadowlands Fairgrounds 50 Rte 120
  2. Until Mon Jul 6
More info

SummerStage Global Family Day

  • Free

There are tons of concerts for adults at SummerStage, but this show is geared to the peanut gallery. Headlining the Central Park mainstage's family day are Shine and the Moonbeams, a funky, family-friendly group providing R&B tunes. The Noel Pointer Youth Orchestra, high-energy acrobatics crew The Red Trouser Show, dance troupe Batoto Yetu and a movement performance by Ziporah Roney and Collaborative Arists round out the lineup. For a complete schedule, visit cityparksfoundation.org. All ages.

  1. Central Park SummerStage Mainstage Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, enter at Fifth Ave and 72nd St
  2. Until Sun Jul 5
More info

Milstein Science Series 2015

  • Price band: 2/4

Hit up these family-friendly events at the AMNH to give the kids a dose of way-cool science during a three-part series celebrating the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. First kids will explore the life cycles and adaptability of marine creatures in Incredible Oceans by meeting a marine biologist, meeting live animals and watching musical performance about unusual critters by Michael Hearst (April 19). Next, get acquainted with sea turtles and learn how to protect them with help from a conservation scientist before jamming out with Bash the Trash (May 3). Finally, take a ride through the solar system for a unique view of the deep blue from the Geodome during Water World: Immersive Dome Experience (June 8–July 11). All ages.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West at 79th St, 10024
  2. Until Sat Jul 11
More info

International African Arts Festival

  • Critics choice

While this four-day festival started as a small community fundraiser, it now attracts a crowd of 75,000 from around the world. Expect lots of family-friendly and kids programming throughout each day. Catch African dance performances, a fashion show, a chess tournament, a parade on Saturday (July 4), and musical and theatrical performances. All ages.

  1. Commodore Barry Park Navy St, between Flushing and Park Aves
  2. Until Sun Jul 5
More info

Theatreworks USA's Skippyjon Jones Snow What

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Tickets for this musical from Theatreworks USA are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, so show up an hour prior to the performance to ensure that you and the kids can enjoy the tale of a Siamese cat who imagines he is El Skippito Friskito, a Mexican Chihuahua. In this funny twist on the classic Snow White fairytale, Skippyjon enlists help from his friends, the Seven Chimichangos to rescue the princess, Nieve Qué (Snow What). Ages 4 and up.

  1. Lucille Lortel Theatre 121 Christopher St, between Bleecker and Hudson Sts
  2. Thu Jul 30 - Fri Aug 7
More info

"Life at the Limits: Stories of Amazing Species"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Prepare to be amazed by the sophisticated strategies and unique adaptations animals and plants use to survive, from elephant seals that can hold their breath for two hours to beetles that defend themselves by shooting explosive chemicals at their enemies. This educational and engaging gallery includes both live animals and models, as well as videos and interactive features. All ages.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Central Park West at 79th St, 10024
  2. Until Sun Jan 3
More info

Jeppe Hein: Please Touch the Art

  • Free

A standard afternoon in Brooklyn Bridge Park becomes a unique interactive experience when Danish artist Jeppe Hein’s installation takes over the public space. Curious kids will love walking through three separate works, discovering quirky additions to the landscape like benches that twist and curve, a mirror labyrinth that lets visitors see double (or triple) and a grid of sky-high water jets that create sporadic walls of H2O rising up from the ground. Families wander from the Manhattan Bridge along the waterfront to Pier 6, and get their hands on works of art instead of just observing from a distance, so make sure to bring a camera—the crazy-awesome photo opportunities will be more than worth the trip. All ages.

  1. Brooklyn Bridge Park Main St at Fulton Ferry Landing, 11201
  2. Until Fri Jan 1
More info

"The Hunger Games: The Exhibition"

  • Price band: 3/4

The odds are definitely in your favor at this super–interactive, totally immersive exhibit insipired by The Hunger Games. Kids will learn about science, technology and problem–solving as they follow Katniss Everdeen's inspiring and action–packed journey through seven different galleries, including Tribute Train, District 12 and The Capitol. Super fans will flip for the authentic costumes and artifacts from the films on display, as well as the interactive map of Panem and stunt choreography feature. Tickets go on sale April 21; prereregistration is recommended.

  1. Discovery Times Square 226 W 44th St, between Seventh and Eighth Aves
  2. Until Sun Jan 3
More info

"Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland"

  • Price band: 1/4

After a century and a half, the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland manuscript has made its way from the British Library in London to NYC, where it sits surrounded by original drawings and letters, rare editions, vintage photographs and other mementos from the story’s early days. Fans will adore seeing Sir John Tenniel’s colorful pen-and-ink illustrations, Carroll’s personal puppet theater and the desk used by Alice Liddell (the story’s namesake), which holds a letter she wrote to her father when she was 10. In the gallery, catch screenings of the first Alice film adaptation (from 1903) and hang out in reading areas to page through copies of the manuscript. Ages 4 and up.

  1. The Morgan Library & Museum 225 Madison Ave, at 36th St
  2. Until Sun Oct 11
More info

Arts Island Outpost on Governors Island

Hop on board the ferry to Governors Island, where CMA will be hosting free family art workshops led by in-house teaching artists all summer long. This season's activities will be inspired by the island itself, with projects showing the importance of nature and parks. Get ready to track down natural and recyclable materials, add to installations and interact with the environment. Meet outside Building 14 in Nolan Park. Ages 1 to 12.

  1. Governors Island Governors Island
  2. Sat Aug 1 - Sun Sep 27
More info

"City Splash"

  • Price band: 1/4

Embrace the warmth at this splashable outdoor play center. Hands-on learning stations let tykes play with floating objects, tinker with an Erosion Table, race boats down a 16-foot zigzagging stream, try out "evaporation painting" and operate waterwheels.

  1. Children's Museum of Manhattan 212 W 83rd St, between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway, 10024
  2. Thu Jul 30 - Sun Sep 27
More info

Flaubert Frog & Friends

  • Free

At Bryant Park's 14-animal merry-go-round, kids will find this storytelling amphibian and his feline pal Cali Co Cat presenting stories and poems from Free to Be...You and Me and leading kids in songs and games. Ages 2 to 8.

  1. Le Carrousel Bryant Park, W 40th St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, 10018
  2. Sat Aug 1 - Sat Aug 8
More info

"Far, Far Away..."

  • Price band: 1/4

Arty kids can let their imaginations run wild while browsing this otherworldly exhibition of creative artworks that evoke dreamed-up realities. Striking visual elements such as bright colors, stunning landscapes, and outdoor materials like tree stumps bring viewers into worlds of fantasy and illusion. Kids will see a series of lighthouses from Meghan Boody, fairy-tale landscapes from Julie Heffernan and other works that address transitioning from childhood to adulthood, changing identities and venturing into the unknown. Pop into hands-on gallery workshops to explore some of the techniques used in the exhibit, including positive-negative cutouts, symbolic drawings and magazine collages. Ages 5 and up.

  1. Children's Museum of the Arts 103 Charlton St, between Greenwich and Hudson Sts, 10014
  2. Until Sun Sep 6
More info

"Inspired by Nam June Paik: Becoming Robot"

  • Price band: 1/4

Several New York City public-school students explored an exhibition devoted to the late Korean artist Nam June Paik that included such unique works as a life-size robot made from old-school TV sets to portray the evolution of robotics. Now the pupils become the artists, displaying their response to the exhibit through work of their own. Four schools collaborated on original pieces, which include an interactive origami-teaching robot and child-sized robot suits (worn by the students and shown in a video) and a robot family comprising a mom, dad, baby, butler and dog. All ages.

  1. Asia Society 725 Park Ave, at 70th St
  2. Until Sun Jul 19
More info

The Art Yard

This Mad. Sq. Kids workshop series invites youngsters to spend their summer days picking up new skills and enjoying live entertainment. Track down cool demos from local teaching artists and be ready to jump in to a fun, hands-on activity with help from Mom or Dad. Throughout the summer, kids can further explore the park's newest installation "Fata Morgana," (6/20, 7/18, 8/22), try their hand at weaving (6/27), cartooning (7/11) and puppetry (7/25). Check the website for a full schedule of workshops. Ages 1–12.

  1. Madison Square Park 23rd St to 26th St, between Fifth and Madison Aves, 10010
  2. Sat Aug 1 - Sat Aug 22
More info

The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park

  • Free

The Public Theater continues its seasonal tradition of offering free Shakespeare productions at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. This summer, The Tempest takes the stage, starring the likes of Sam Waterston (Newsroom) and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family). Ages 10 and up.

  1. Delacorte Theater Central Park, enter at Central Park West and 81st St
  2. Thu Jul 30 - Sun Aug 23
More info

"The Helpers of the Secret Annex"

  • Price band: 1/4

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, The Anne Frank Center USA provides family programming to help visitors of all ages understand the significance of the historic events. The "Helpers, Heroes and Liberators" series presents programs to honor the victims and survivors, including this special exhibit, visiting from The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. It focuses on the personal stories of the brave individuals who provided food, clothing and more to 8 people (including Anne Frank) hiding in the Secret Annex. Families can explore letters, photos, artifacts and filmed interviews with Otto Frank. Ages 8 and up.

  1. The Anne Frank Center USA 44 Park Pl, at Church St, 10007
  2. Until Wed Dec 30
More info

Urban Farm Exploration Days

  • Free

Every Saturday this summer, you and your little ones can take a break from the city streets and learn all about farming at the Urban Farm on Randall's Island. Chill with the chickens, learn about the rice paddies, and venture through all sorts of fruits and veggies on your self-guided tour around the grounds. There will be Urban Farm experts on site to answer questions along the way. All ages.

  1. Urban Farm in Randall's Island Park Wards Meadow Loop, at Hell Gate Cir, 10035
  2. Sat Aug 1 - Sat Sep 26
More info


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